A parent or teacher has told me my child is bullying somebody, what should I do?
Try to have an open discussion with your child and give them the chance to explain the situation and their view on what is happening. Although your initial reaction may be to be angry with them a lot of research shows that children who are bullies have also been bullied themselves at some point in their life any have their own insecurities or worries. It is worth sitting your child down and asking them if they are ok or worried about something. If your child is not comfortable talking to you about it find somebody who they trust and can open up to or ask them to write what’s happened down in a letter.
Find out who the child is that they have been bullying. Inform the school and parents of the child who is being bullied that you are aware of the situation and dealing with it. Although it is a hard thing to do it is important to understand why your child is bullying that person. Ask staff at their school (if they’re at the same school) any suggestions as to why your child may be bullying them. Think about if there have been any changes at school or in their personal life that could cause a change in behaviour.
Explain the consequences and harm that bullying can cause to another person. Get your child to put themselves in the other child’s shoes and ask them how they would feel if they were treated in that way. A lot of children do not understand that their behaviour is upsetting someone especially if they see it as ‘banter’.
Find an interest that your child may have and encourage them to take up a new task or hobby. Sometimes children who bully may be bored and feel they have nothing to work towards or look forward to. Encourage your child to focus on the positive and what they are good at to keep them occupied.
Highlight your child’s strengths to them and encourage them to use these at school eg, they are a good listener. This is particularly important for children who may have been labelled as ‘the naughty kid’. Unless positive behaviour is encouraged they may continue to act in a way that fits the label they have been given.
I think my child’s being cyber bullied, what can I do?
Find a good place and the right time to approach your child to discuss this with them. Many children don’t speak out because they feel embarrassed or don’t know how to bring up the conversation. Places like the car, having a walk, over dinner are good times to bring up a conversation as these are often laid back environments which may feel this less threatening than arranging a meeting with them.
Try having a general conversation about how your child is feeling alerting them that you have noticed changes in their behaviour. Reiterate that you or other family members or friends are always there for support.
Check your online security settings on your home or their computer to ensure your child is not entering any websites you would not want them to.
Encourage your child to spend less time online, try and get them involved in other activities. You could also monitor their time online.
If your child does open up to do not be angry with them that they did not tell you sooner but ask them to explain the situation and also ask them about how they reacted to the cyberbullying; hopefully they will not have retaliated. Reassure them that a lot of people get cyberbullied and that they are not alone. Encourage them to show you all of the cyber bullying and take the appropriate action. If the bullying is happening over a social media there are steps that your child can take to stop their online interactions with that person including blocking or reporting them. To learn how to do this on Facebook visit this site https://www.facebook.com/safety/and to do it on Twitter visit this site https://support.twitter.com/articles/76036-keeping-your-account-secure. If the interactions are really serious consider reporting them to the site or even the police. Make sure you save the evidence by print screening the page by pressing print screen button on most computer key boards.
Although it’s easy to want to, try not to take away their use of the internet and their phone as this may seem like you are punishing them when it is obviously out of their control.
I am increasingly aware of the number of young people that are being bullied online. What can I do as a parent/guardian to keep my child safe online?
There are many things you can do to try and keep your child safe online:
- Create a folder of ‘bookmarks’ or ‘favourites’ for your child on your computer that you are happy for them to look at
- We all make a digital footprint online; whatever we do online stays there. It is important to educate your child about what information they should and should not put up online. This includes indecent pictures of themselves, home address/location, phone number, email address, password, bank details.
- Create a family agreement between all family members for internet use including hours of use, and which sites they can and can’t go on.
- Consider installing a child friendly search engine or filter like Yahooligans
- Make yourself familiar with Facebook, Twitter etc so you can understand what your child can do in the virtual world and how they can stay safe. You don’t necessarily have to create an account to do this but can look at the sites’ safety centres eg, https://support.twitter.com/articles/76036-keeping-your-account-secure, https://www.facebook.com/safety/
- If your child is on Facebook sit down and check their privacy settings with them.
- Tell your child that if someone harasses them online, says something inappropriate, or makes them feel uncomfortable in any way they should tell you, a teacher, a friend or a trusted adult.